Advice and Aftercare

What is ‘Dermalize’ and will it replace cling film in tattoo aftercare?

Tattoo by David Corden

Tattoo by David Corden

I’ve been using a product called Dermalize on a lot of my recent (fresh) tattoos, as per guidance from some of my tattooists. I thought I’d write an unsponsored post about why I genuinely like it.

All the usual disclaimers with this one. Firstly, please follow your tattooist’s advice. As with all of Inkluded’s tattoo guides, always consult your artist and their recommendations. Secondly, as mentioned above, this is not a sponsored post or paid advertising, but was created in close contact with information from the company Dermalize and artists who use their product.

Incidentally, Dermalize is officially endorsed internationally by around 40 exceptional artists such as Sam BarberStefano Alcantara, Steve ButcherJeff Gogue, David Corden and too many more to list here!

I think Dermalize makes tattoo healing so easy - no fuss!

I think Dermalize makes tattoo healing so easy – no fuss!

With Dermalize, it’s probably not something that you will hear about unless it’s used by someone who tattoos you. Essentially it’s a product that your tattooer may use to wrap your tattoo in post-appointment, as an alternative to cling film. You may leave the studio with it on your skin already and / or take a small portion of film home with you as well to apply yourself.

Therefore, Dermalize is not something I’d use in the aftercare process without informing and / or asking my artist first as they’ll have specific guidance for their own individual work. Depending on the tattoo location, size and execution, and your own personal circumstances, Dermalize may or may not be the best option for you.

So, what is it?!

Dermalize is a thin, self-adhesive, protective tattoo film. It is designed to protect the tattoo and provide a waterproof, anti-bacterial barrier that prevents external contaminants from entering the wound. It’s breathable – lets oxygen in and excess moisture vapour out. It’s flexible and can stay on for several days.

Tattoo by Sam Barber

Tattoo by Sam Barber

Using it on my own tattoos

Over the last couple of years, at least ten of my own tattoos were ‘healed’ using Dermalize. It was specifically recommended by my tattooists and on each occasion I received different instructions from them.

My larger (often colour) tattoos were more likely to weep in the aftermath and so I left the studios with my own small piece of Dermalize too, so I could take off the initial sheet, clean the tattoo, and re-apply a fresh one within the first 24 hours. With smaller, majority line-work pieces however, I was instructed to just leave on the piece already applied by my tattooist.

I kept the film on my tattoo for anything from 3 days to 1 week. The size, style and placement of the piece will effect this time period. Your artist will have this advice / information as it’s not something you can always guess correctly!

I used Dermalize on my recent sternum tattoo. I re-applied a new sheet of film at home, after washing, when 12 hours had passed, and then left the new piece on for 4 days. It was sore to peel off, as always, but was healed underneath (no scabbing or redness, just slightly dry). I then applied my favourite aftercare cream for the next week and continued to use this anyway as a general moisturiser, even when healed.

Applying Dermalize to my recent sternum tattoo

Apologies for the bad picture! Applying Dermalize to my recent sternum tattoo

My own personal review

Following usage during these (approx.) ten different tattoo experiences, I can confirm that I personally absolutely love this product.

I usually use cling film to protect my tattoos for the first three days (cleaning and re-wrapping 3-4 times a day) as per my usual aftercare ritual, and Dermalize is an alternative that’s just so much easier and cleaner than cling film.

It essentially stops you touching and ‘messing’ with your tattoo at all. It completely eliminates any ‘fussing about’ with bits of cling film that often fall off or don’t wrap around awkward areas well. You literally leave Dermalize on for anything up to a week, don’t touch the tattooed area even once, eventually take the film off, and underneath… a completely healed tattoo. Genius.

Had my knees tattooed by the lovely Paula Castle in 2015. Sitting here at home with Dermalize applies (with my mum who had just had a knee operation and was wearing something similar!)

I had my knees tattooed by the lovely Paula Castle in 2015. Sitting here at home with a film product applied (with my mum who had just had a knee operation and was ‘wearing’ something similar!)

On areas of the body that move and / or sweat more, like the knees and hands, I noticed the fluids building up beneath the film or repeated movement would cause it to break. Following artist advice, sometimes I removed the film completely after a shorter time period… two or three days. Each aftercare process is different as factors will always vary – you just need to keep a close eye on how your tattoo looks, whether the Dermalize still feels ‘intact’, and so on.

I personally wouldn’t re-apply Dermalize again and again (and again) in a short time period on the same tattoo. The ‘glue’ will essentially stick to your tattoo and skin and so pulling fresh film off frequently is going to a) hurt b) repeatedly pull at a wound that’s trying to heal. Once or twice application per tattoo is enough for me! Some people do change their Dermalize frequently so again, this may be down to personal preference.

Photo: Dermalize

Photo: Dermalize

How to apply Dermalize

You can follow your artist’s instructions and those provided on the Dermalize website where you can browse tons of useful video guides.

Are there alternatives?

Absolutely, there are loads of other similar products out there but I believe Dermalize to be the market-leader (anecdotally). I’ve also heard of (but never been personally recommended) the likes of Saniderm and Dr Derm. There’s an incredibly long list of films of this kind used for both tattoos and non-tattoo medical uses (burns, wounds, etc).

As mentioned, every single artist and customer will have a different preference and skin reaction. Many are allergic to the adhesives used in some films and various tattooists I know would prefer to recommend fresh air after the first couple of days rather than keeping a tattoo wrapped in this way.

The company sell two different products – a larger roll (for studios and artists) and smaller film samples (for ‘personal’ use and for customers to take home). You can find out more and buy online.

Tattoo by Steve Butcher

Tattoo by Steve Butcher


Thank you to Dermalize and various tattooists for assisting me in writing this blog.

1 reply »

  1. Dermalize? It’s repackaged Tegaderm. Not specially developed in conjunction with scientists and professional tattoo artists…..just marketing hype.

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